Israel Oloyede grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, dreaming of playing football for Arizona State University. He dabbled with the shot and disc while in high school, but football was his main sport. After his senior year, the ASU coaches thought he needed a little seasoning before he was ready play major college football and told him that if he enrolled at Scottsdale Community College they’d give him another look in a year or two.
Israel followed their advice, but it wasn’t long before he decided that Scottsdale CC was not the place for him. He wanted to transfer to another community college where he could continue his football career, but first he had to receive a release from the Scottsdale program. Perhaps intoxicated by the power he wielded as the coach of the SCC Artichokes football team, the head man at Scottsdale refused. Who could have predicted then that his decision would contribute to the current renaissance in the hammer and weight throws in the United States?
Israel ended up transferring to Paradise Valley Community College, located in Phoenix. Their mascot is a Puma. Since he was unable to play football, he decided to resume his career as a thrower.
Jim Lothrop, the Paradise Valley throws coach, recommended Israel try the javelin, and so he did.
Israel says that at first, the javelin seemed “pretty easy,” but before too long, he “got humbled” and could not manage to break fifty-five meters.
He had never really enjoyed throwing the shot and disc in high school, so he agreed to try the weight and hammer, even though he thought at the time that “the weight did not look fun, and the hammer did not look easy.”
Unfortunately, Coach Lothrop was more of a javelin guy, having twice finished in the top eight at the USATF Nationals. Luckily, a former weight/hammer thrower from Louisiana State University, Jeremy Tuttle, was in Phoenix coaching at Ottawa University Arizona and also at a club called the Phoenix Bobcats.
Under the guidance of Coach Tuttle, Israel went from throwing the weight 12.47m and the hammer 54.00m his freshman year to 20.89m in the weight and 63.13m in the hammer as a sophomore. The 20.89m was a national junior college record and got the attention of Coach TJ Crater, who recruited Israel to the University of Arizona.
Over the course of two years, Coach Crater helped Israel set school records of 23.79m in the weight and 73.22m in the hammer. Last summer, Israel made the final at the Olympic Trials, and started to think that maybe he had a future in this business.
With one year of eligibility remaining, Israel then decided to move back home to Phoenix and enroll at Grand Canyon University, which had just hired Nathan Ott as its throws coach.
Ott is best known as the coach of Olympian Brooke Anderson, and training alongside Brooke has been a nice side benefit of transfering to Grand Canyon.
“Being around someone like Brooke has really helped me,” Israel says. “It was the same thing having Jordan Geist to train with at Arizona. Being around great athletes pushes you to do better.”
Israel’s 24.45m throw from this January has him seeded second behind Daniel Haugh going into Sunday’s competition in Spokane.
He is excited to throw against the guys like Haugh and Rudy Winkler that he used to watch compete and would think “I want to be like them.”
Not that Israel will be cowed by the competition. “I threw against those guys in the hammer at Tucson Elite last year,” he recalled, “and I PR’d. Competing against them brought out the best in me, so I won’t be intimidated this this time, either.”
The men’s weight throw competition is scheduled for Sunday at 11:00am Pacific time.